Fresh crisp lime juice is a great pair with peppery tequila, and with sweet pomegranate and Angostura bitters creates a deliciously tart cocktail
The Mexican Firing Squad history
The Mexican Firing Squad was first published in the Gentleman's Companion written by the would traveler and historian Charles H. Baker in 1937.
He discovered the drink at the Mexican bar La Cucaracha after he and his companion had abandoned their chaperones for the evening.
Originally the recipe only called for a tiny pour of grenadine but to make a more balanced cocktail, modern versions typically use an equal amount of grenadine and lime juice.
why is it called a Mexican Firing Squad?
There doesn't seem to be any specific reasoning as to why the drink is called a Mexican Firing Squad. A firing squad was a means of execution where several soldiers would shoot at a sentenced prisoner with only one loaded gun so it wasn't clear who fired the lethal bullet.
Maybe Mr. Baker felt like he was on the wrong side of a firing squad after drinking a few too many? Or the drink could have required an attention grabbing name to compliment its punchy flavors...
Mexican Firing Squad recipe
The Mexican Firing Squad cocktail is made with tequila, fresh lime juice, grenadine, and angostura bitters. The ingredients are shaken with ice, poured on the rocks and garnished with a lime wheel.
Picking good ingredients is key in simple cocktails and since I'm confident you can juice a lime and find a bottle of angostura bitters (they're at most grocery stores) let's focus on the grenadine.
Choose your grenadine wisely
Not all grenadine is created equal and most of the big brands like Torani, Monin, and Rose's are sickeningly sweet with no real fruit flavors. Grenadine is a pomegranate syrup used to sweeten many different cocktails but in addition to sweetness it should actually add some fruitiness to your drink!
If the grenadine is more bright red than the pomegranate seeds ever were, it probably isn't made with just pomegranate...
Look for bottles made with real pomegranate that have a deep red or maroon color. You can find great brands like Small Hand Foods or BG Reynold's or make some yourself with nothing but pomegranate juice and cane sugar.
Make your own homemade grenadine to instantly upgrade your drinks
make it a highball
The Mexican Firing Squad is great simply poured on the rocks, but if you're in the mood for something a little lighter try making it a highball. Strain the shaken drink into a Collins glass with ice and top it up with a few ounces of soda water.
Drop in a straw and garnish with a lime wheel.
Picking your tequila
When a drink recipe only has a few ingredients you can be pretty sure the flavors from each will stand out, so don't skimp on your tequila!
By no means should you go buy a $60 bottle to mix in your cocktails (unless you're wild) but you want to avoid bottom shelf options that will leave a strong alcohol note coming through in the final drink.
Some of my favorite mixing tequilas are: Arette, Espolon, and Olmeca Altos.
or Try using a reposado tequila
Most recipes for the Mexican Firing Squad call for blanco tequila, but switching it for its older cousin reposado can be delicious too.
Reposado tequila is aged in oak barrels before being bottled much like bourbon or scotch whiskey.
The ageing process tones down some of the bright peppery kick and adds in deeper notes of vanilla and warm spices that will make a more rounded mellow cocktail.
Mexican Firing Squad with Mezcal
The vibrant combination of lime juice and grenadine creates a cheek puckering tang that is ready to stand up to some seriously flavorful booze.
If you want to add even more punchiness to your drink try substituting some of the tequila for Mezcal (like in the Mezcalita) to add layers of smoked earthy goodness. You certainly don't need to go using a full 2 oz pour of mezcal, and could even use as little as 1/4 oz for just a hint of roasted agave flavor.
Now go make one!
Mexican Firing Squad
- 2 oz Tequila - blanco
- 3/4 oz Fresh Lime Juice
- 3/4 oz Grenadine
- 4 dashes Angostura Bitters
- Add all the ingredients to your cocktail shaker
- Add ice and shake hard for about 10 seconds
- Strain into a chilled rocks glass willed with ice
- Garnish with a lime wheel
If you haven never made homemade grenadine before take this as your chance! It will blow the cheap store-bought options out of the water and you'll never look back.
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